IFOA: What inspired you to write Careen?
Carolyn: For the past few years I have been interested in writing the unrevealed truths behind certain historical figures. Reading a recent biography of the outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, I learned that their lasting fame was based on one set of staged photographs left behind in a getaway, and a 1967 Arthur Penn film that to a large degree invented their story. I was drawn to tell the more realistic tale: the hardscrabble existence of two young people with absolutely nothing to lose in Depression-era Texas, an area and time with which I have a personal connection: my maternal grandfather was a failed gun-runner who died in penury in Laredo.
IFOA: What is the hardest part about writing poetry that resembles dialogue?
Carolyn: I wanted the poems to have recognizable and distinct voices, to be revealing information but also working as rhythmic language; I wanted lyricism and narrative linked. And for this book I took the leap to write in dialect, which to me felt revolutionary.
IFOA: What piece of advice do you give to aspiring authors in your creative writing classes?
Carolyn: I encourage emerging writers to avoid self-censorship, to edit thoroughly, and to remember why you write: because you love it.
IFOA: What are you reading now?
Carolyn: I am reading “Inferno (A Poet’s Novel)” by Eileen Myles, also “Speedboat” by Renata Adler. I just finished “Night Sky with Exit Wounds” by Ocean Vuong and “Bluets” by Maggie Nelson.
IFOA: What’s next for you?
Carolyn: I’m writing poems about all kinds of different things, in lots of different forms. I’m not sure where it’s going yet, but I’m open to anything.
See Carolyn read live at Brick Books’ 40th Anniversary Celebration on May 25th at 7:30pm.